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5 Essential Steps for Growth-Hacking Your Business

Technology is making things move much faster, thanks to integration and automation, among other factors, making the slow-and-steady approach to growing a business counterproductive as far as many business owners are concerned.

Startup businesses in particular, who need to watch every penny, don’t have the luxury of time. This is why everyone wants to fast-track their growth to avoid getting left behind.

Cue growth hacking—the relatively new go-to move for startups to achieve accelerated growth through analytical, creative, and innovative methods that don’t cost them an arm and a leg.

But to growth-hack your business, you need to have the most critical element in place . . .

First Things First: Your Product/Service

Your growth-hacking strategy should revolve around a great product/service that people—your target audience, in particular—would want. The value-driven modern consumer expects nothing less. Otherwise, all your growth hacking efforts will end up wasted if you can’t retain your customers in the long run because the problem is not in any of the stages of your growth-hacking strategy but in the product/service itself.

Once you have a product/service you can proudly sell to your prospects, you can growth-hack your way to consistent profitability.

AARRR: It’s Pirate Metrics for You

Widely used by startups because of its focus on measuring growth, AARRR stands for acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue.  It was developed by venture capitalist David McLure ten years ago and came to be nicknamed Pirate Metrics for obvious reasons.

Here’s how AARRR works in your growth hacking:

  1. Acquisition

To succeed here, you need to make strategic choices regarding where to look and how to attract new customers.

Have a specific target.

Don’t go after everyone–just the first 15 percent of the market. These are the people you must convert first.

But who are they exactly? To answer that, create a detailed, accurate customer profile: age range, gender, income, personality, interests—and even race in some cases.

Avoid vanity metrics.

These will tell you how many Facebook Likes you get, how many visits you get on your website, how many downloads your app gets, but Likes, visits, and downloads have to lead to conversion for them to mean something.

Rather metrics that tell you how long a visitor stayed on your site and which specific pages they visited help you determine how much interest your product is generating.

Increase your organic reach using SEO.

Search engine optimization can drives traffic to your website through keywords and key phrases. A page 1 rank on a search engine guarantees visibility and the therefore increased traffic; and ranking in the top 3 yields even better results. Just make sure to employ metrics that give you meaningful information.

Make note, though, that SEO is not something that an inexperienced member of your in-house marketing team can learn in a few weeks, so be sure to use the services of professionals. To optimize your content for search engines, factor in your customer profile so your content team has a specific person to create content for.

  1. Activation

This is about a customer’s first experience using your product or service and them realizing its value to them. It can also be about the level of engagement in the visits, as in a visitor using a key feature in your app or browsing through site pages for a considerable amount of time.

If your product is an app, for example, you want to know whether the customer returned after the initial log-in following download or sign-up.

  1. Retention

Once the customer has had a positive user experience with your product, they are most likely going to keep using it; and somewhere down the line, they will choose to upgrade their account as they realize they need access to more of your product’s functionalities.

As invigorating as the acquisition of new customers is, what ultimately drives your growth is your success in keeping those customers.  It saves your business from becoming a casualty of the churn—one of the metrics that a startup should closely track in order to be able to course-correct in time. For example, according to Statista, user retention rate for mobile apps in 2019 was 32 percent, down from 38 percent in 2018, which means mobile app businesses have to work harder to keep customers from abandoning their product.

  1. Referral

Dropbox will probably be forever synonymous with “viral referral,” thanks to its founders’ genius product launch strategy of announcing their service to the public at a major event (TechCrunch 50) in 2008, and then subsequently spurring people’s interest by making the service invite-only post-launch.

But that kind of virality is not easy to achieve because timing also factors into it. Still, you want to get as many referrals as you can in the form of customers who are satisfied with the value your product/service provides them and are only too happy to recommend you to family and friends and everyone in their social network. If your satisfied customers are marketing your product/service for you, you can afford to give your customer acquisition budget a break.

  1. Revenue

This will pretty much take care of itself if your business performed well in the preceding stages. Although your revenue may take a while to significantly improve your bottom line,  as long as you pay attention to how your business is performing, adapt when necessary, and keep improving your product or service, your hard work, persistence, and creativity should pay off eventually.

But What Is RARRA?

RARRA does not involve pompoms; rather, it’s considered the new standard for mobile app growth. It involves the same steps as AARRR, just repositioned.

While AARRR is focused on logical progression, RARRA is focused on importance—in which case retention comes first. While RARRA is intended mainly for mobile app businesses, the core idea of prioritizing customer retention will resonate with other types of businesses.

This is how Thomas Petit and Gabor Papp’s reworking of AARRR looks like:


Offer customers substantial value so they will continue using your app.


Make sure new users readily see your app’s value when they launch it for the first time.


With the preceding two steps covered, it’s pretty easy customers will have good reason to recommend your app.


This is the logical result.


Everyone who’s on your app is your product ambassador, which means your acquisition efforts will get a substantial boost that will lead to even more new customers.


Key Takeaway

A huge number of new customers will prove to be of little value if they keep eventually abandoning your product or service. Customer retention is the quiet, steady enabler that you should never take for granted.

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